AT&T faulted for anti-consumer practices

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is investigating reports that AT&T charged DirecTV customers for the blacked out Altitude Sports network for a two-month period, issuing refunds only after customers contacted the company to complain. Altitude Sports network broadcasts games by the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Colorado Rapids.

“[T]he charge of a Regional Sports Fee may constitute a deceptive trade practice under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act" and "may result in the imposition of civil penalties up to $20,000 per violation,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

This month AT&T finally settled a five-year old Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit with a $60 million customer refund for throttling wireless service for those on “unlimited data” plans. “AT&T promised unlimited data—without qualification—and failed to deliver on that promise,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While it seems obvious, it bears repeating that Internet providers must tell people about any restrictions on the speed or amount of data promised.”

And last month, AT&T increased monthly bills of customers with certain grandfathered plans by $10 and refused to let the customers switch to their previous plans. AT&T justified its action as a “bonus” because the customers also got an increase of 15GB in their data plans. "Starting with your October 2019 bill, you'll get an additional 15GB of data on your Mobile Share plan. This bonus data comes with a $10 price increase,” said AT&T in a support document

AT&T’s troubles come after it unveiled a new three-year plan that caters to Wall Street, favoring generous stock buybacks over investments in networks and employees. 

Links:

AT&T makes customers work to get refunds they should get automatically (ARS Technica, Nov. 6, 2019)

AT&T switches customers to more expensive plans without asking them first (ARS Technica, Nov. 7, 2019)

AT&T to Pay $60 Million to Resolve FTC Allegations It Misled Consumers with ‘Unlimited Data’ Promises (FTC, Nov. 5, 2019)

AT&T’s new financial plan caters to Wall Street and leaves customers and employees behind (Speed Matters, Nov. 4, 2019)